Newly re-elected Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) on CNN’s Jake Tapper show stated, “I’m a conservative. I’ve governed as a conservative in this state, and I think that’s led to some people disagreeing with me in our state, because it’s generally a left-of-center, blue state.”
But is Christie truly a conservative?
Republicans, like Christie, often quote Ronald Reagan when speaking about conservatism. In September 2011 Christie spoke at the Reagan Library, his topic was “Real American Exceptionalism“. Christie focused on Ronald Reagan’s stand against striking air traffic controllers in 1981. Christie said, “The air traffic controllers, in violation of their contracts, went on strike. President Reagan ordered them back to work, making clear that those who refused would be fired. In the end, thousands refused, and thousands were fired. I cite this incident not as a parable of labor relations but as a parable of principle. Ronald Reagan was a man who said what he meant and meant what he said. Those who thought he was bluffing were sadly mistaken. Reagan’s demand was not an empty political play; it was leadership, pure and simple.”
“We tend to still understand foreign policy as something designed by officials in the State Department and carried out by ambassadors and others overseas. And to some extent it is. But one of the most powerful forms of foreign policy is the example we set. This is where it is instructive to harken back to Ronald Reagan and the PATCO affair. President Reagan’s willingness to articulate a determined stand and then carry it out at home sent the signal that the occupant of the Oval Office was someone who could be predicted to stand by his friends and stand up to his adversaries. If President Reagan would do that at home, leaders around the world realized that he would do it abroad as well. Principle would not stop at the water’s edge,” noted Christie.
Reagan’s policies were based upon in what has become known as his “three legged stool”. Some call them the “Three Pillars of Conservatism”.
Kevin Price from Renew America writes, “If you know of Ronald Reagan, you are likely to be aware of his ‘three legged stool.’ Reagan developed a success formula to build winning coalitions that was as simple as it was brilliant. A sample of that simplicity and one of the hallmarks of Reagan’s policies was his ‘three legged stool.’ Reagan’s policies were built on three ideas; free enterprise, strong defense, and pro-family social policies. He chose these three because they, of course, reflected his own values, but he also realized that each of these ideas have enormous appeal on their own.”
Reagan was a man of principle, true conservatives are as well. Compromise on matters of principle is foreign to conservatives. Conservatives intuitively know that compromise on principles is the art of losing slowly.
J. Matt Barber from Christian News Today in his column “The Complete Conservative” writes, “I recently attended the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration hosted by the Republican Party of Virginia. It was co-sponsored by, among others, the Ronald Reagan Institute for Conservative Leadership. Michael Reagan, the oldest child of the man widely considered our greatest modern president, was the keynote speaker. Mr. Reagan said something that I think concisely sums up the core values shared by the ragtag millions who comprise the Tea Party movement. ‘People often ask me if Ronald Reagan would have supported the Tea Party,” he said. ‘Ronald Reagan was the Tea Party’.”
Speculation about who is the frontrunner for in the 2016 presidential Republican primaries has begun. The media always frames the Republican selection process as a need to run as a conservative in order to win the primary but run as a moderate in order to win the White House. That strategy was unsuccessful for both John McCain and Mitt Romney.
Price wrote, “Today, the common cry from economic conservatives is that they are the only ones with a message that matters to the voting public. After 40 years of Roe vs. Wade, we have two generations who only know a country with abortion on demand, they argue. Secondly, many conservatives have grown suspicious of ‘the military’ leg. They believe that just as the government has gotten suspicious in its domestic spending, it has also lost its bearings when it comes to defense and has found itself being internationalists with muscle. Essentially, ‘the three legged stool’ is being replaced by a pogo stick. A single area of interest and concern — the economy, being the springboard for political success.”
Price concludes, “The reality is the ‘three legged stool’ tripled the reasons why one would vote Republican. If the GOP provides the only means to protect traditional families, Christian conservatives will support it, regardless of the other legs of the stool. I think the same can be [said] of the other parts of a coalition that made the Republican Party very successful. If the stool is dead, the fortunes of the party may be also.”
Has the GOP adopted a “pogo stick” as the only path for political success? If so, losses as far as the eye can see may occur, as they did in Virginia, a state that could have elected the conservative Ken Cuccinelli.
Barry Goldwater wrote, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”
It not the economy stupid, its the three legged stool!